"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
~James 1:27

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ecuadorian Dreams

Back in September, I shared about an opportunity I have to go to Ecuador with Compassion International. I am so excited at the thought of returning to Ecuador, a country that I love so much. The trip costs $2900, and the deadline for all my money to be in is November 13. Two weeks ago, I had all but given up on this dream of returning to Ecuador and meeting the beautiful girls I sponsor there. But by the grace of God and the support of some friends, this may actually become a reality. In the last week and a half, numerous people have stepped up and offered their support and prayers for the realization of this dream of mine. I cannot thank the people who have supported me thus far enough. God is so amazing and He has worked through so many people to encourage me in my love of mission, Compassion, and Ecuador! 

But, I still have a ways to go if I am going to make my deadline of November 13. You may have noticed the ChipIn on the right side of my blog. If you are interested in supporting me and my Compassion trip to Ecuador, this is an easy way to donate. It is really easy. You can donate with a paypal account or a credit or debit card. Most of all though, what I really need is prayer support. Please pray for me as I prepare for this trip to Ecuador! I know that if this is where God is leading me than it will happen! 

I will leave you with picture of the 4 absolutely adorable girls that I sponsor in Ecuador. Try not to be too jealous!

Niurka, age 8

Yulissa, age 6

Alexandra, age 7
Carolay, age 8

Friday, October 19, 2012

I Will Bring Praise

Moving to a new state, starting grad school, and living in a dorm for the first time has conjured up a lot of different emotions for me. I have felt excited, lonely, apprehensive, confused, homesick, and anxious. Many times these emotions have all been there at once. It’s not easy going out of my comfort zone to try new things.  Over the last week, I have been struggling to figure out what my purpose in being here in Tennessee is. Anyone could be doing what I am doing right now, so why did God call me here. He had a reason for bringing me here to Tennessee Temple; I just don’t know what it was. I keep wondering, why am I here? 

But rather than question His judgment and worry about where my life is going, I am choosing to praise Him in this season. There are so many things that I have to be thankful for, so many little things that I just take for granted. So I have decided to write them down in my journal of thanksgiving. That way I can look back and see the ways that God has blessed me even on days that haven’t gone my way. Just looking back at this week, He has blessed me in so many ways. Each day my blessings grew. Some of these things are small such as beautiful weather and an updated photo of Rosa, but some of them are big like the fact that 5 people have sent me money for my trip to Ecuador. And a girl gave her life to Christ in chapel yesterday! 

Suddenly life doesn’t feel so hard, so boring and monotonous when we look at it through a lens of praise and thanksgiving. I cannot wait to count the ways that God blesses me today! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My Bolivian Rose

My Rosa is growing up. I have to admit that to myself because sometimes I really don't want her to grow up. I want her to stay my little girl forever. But she is almost 13. That does not qualify as a little girl anymore. But she will always be my beautiful Rosa, no matter how old she gets. I got a new picture of Rosa yesterday, and my she looks older even from just 6 months ago. Oh I can barely wait till the day that I can hug her again. I don't know when that day will be, but I pray that it will be sooner rather than later.

Rosa, age 7- what a little doll!

Rosa, age 9- the little girl that captured my heart

Rosa, age 11- the girl I was dying to meet

Rosa, age 12- the girl I had waited all my life to hug

Rosa, age 12 1/2- my beautiful Bolivian princess

I love you, Rosa! I will never stop loving you. You make me so proud. Keep shining for all the world to see!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ome!

Omelisa isn't my sponsored child anymore. But today is her birthday and I still wanted to honor her and wish her a happy birthday. She is a beautiful little girl and she turns 9 today. I love her, I miss her, but most of all I am so proud of her!!

Happy Birthday, Omelisa! I love you to Indonesia and back!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Something About Her

The minute that I laid eyes on my Rosa for the first time, I knew that there was something about her. She is not a child that I would have picked off the website. She had  this heartbreaking sadness about her, and I instantly became fiercely protective of that 10 year old girl without a father. I knew there was something about her when I received her first letter. After going years without any letters of encouragement, Rosa poured out love and a desire to get to know me in that first letter. She still had hope that I would write back. And write I did! I knew there was something about her when I wrapped my arms around Rosa for the very first time, as we cried and laughed together, as we smiled and played tag and tried to talk to each other. There is something about that girl- she is smart and funny and so full of life. She is a monkey, a joker, and full of energy. She is a leader, she is strong, and she is so full of love and beauty. I have been beyond  blessed to have my beautiful Rosa in my life.

But now here is your chance to have a Rosa in your life.


 This Rosa is also from Bolivia. She has the same exact first and last name as my Rosa. She also lives with just her mother. She lives in the same area of Bolivia as my Rosa. And she has that same sadness in her eyes that my Rosa had when I first became her sponsor. This Rosa also has something about her. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I have a feeling that she has a lot more than just a name in common with my Rosa. This Rosa has been waiting 275 days for a sponsor. She needs someone to show her the love of Christ. Is that someone you? I believe with all of my heart that this beautiful girl would be an absolute joy to sponsor. Please take the time to consider adding Rosa to your family today. If you are interested in sponsoring her, click here.

There is something about this girl. Someone just needs to discover what it is.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mail Call: Bolivia

After 2 and a half weeks with no letters, my letter drought has ended! In the last couple days I have received 9 letters….yup 9 letters! I received some wonderful letters from 7 of my kiddos, but I would like to highlight the beautiful letters that I received from Bolivia, the place that has captured my heart. I received a sweet letter from my Rosa about our time together in Bolivia, and a birthday gift thank you letter and PICTURE from adorable little Kevin along with a form letter about his Christian learning. I will start with Rosa’s letter:

Dear Friend Hilary Hopkins,
I greet you from the heart. I am always thinking about you. I love you so much and I miss you. Thank you for your letter and the photos you sent me. The time when you came to Bolivia was beautiful and unique. The name of my doll is Katherine and I keep the school bag you gave me, I love it. I remember many things about the zoo and that we saw turtles, monkeys, and I want to know, what animal did you like? I encourage your friends to sponsor children from Bolivia, that is an excellent idea. To answer your question, when I see Jesus in heaven, I would say: I love you and I am very happy because you sent a sponsor for me. You are so important to me and my family. It is winter season here and it is very cold. What’s the weather like in your country? I am happy because I will be on break at school, so I will have many things to write you.
I say goodbye with love, Rosa

Yup, I loved the monkeys the best...you, Rosa, were the biggest monkey!

Now, sweet Kevin’s thank you letter for his birthday gift…I am so excited because it was written the day after his birthday. This is the first time that I have actually gotten a birthday gift to a child in a timely manner! 

Dear Friend Hilary Hopkins,
We greet you with a hug and blessings. I am Kevin’s tutor and I’m writing on his behalf. Kevin is happy to receive the birthday gift you sent him. He bought a jacket, a cotton shirt, and a set of superhero action figures that he wanted so much and that’s why he thanks you very much and he made you this drawing with all his dedication. In these last days he was on winter vacations and he went to visit his grandma and he helps to take care of the cows, sheep, donkeys, and chickens; he thinks this is fun and amusing. Kevin says goodbye with a big kiss.
Sister Kathy (tutor)

Aaah, can this kid get any cuter??

Kevin’s other letter was a form letter, but his tutor, Kathy, was sweet enough to write a nice note on the back. Here is my very favorite line:

He liked to see your picture, and he says that you were beautiful when he saw you in April.

Heart melts….

Such a sweet boy!

I just love my sweet kids. It never ceases to amaze me how much I love these kids. I think that I love them more every single letter!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Don't You Ever Grow Up

Happy 11th Birthday, to my Rodrigo! 11! Wow, that sounds so much older than 10. It's hard for me to believe that you weren't even 9 years old when I started to sponsor you. You, Rodrigo, are what started it all! You are so special to me, Rodrigo, and I am so proud of the young man that you are becoming!

Happy Birthday, Rodrigo! I love you to Brazil and back!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Won't You Stay This Little

Happy 9th Birthday to my sweet Mariela! I cannot believe that you are 9 years old today. It feels like just yesterday I saw a picture of your sweet 7 year old face for the first time. And now you are 9!

Happy Birthday, Mariela! I love you all the way to the Dominican Republic and back!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Oh How He Loves Me

Dear God,

I don’t talk to you nearly enough. And when I do it is usually about me. Make ME feel better, tell ME what to do, give ME what I want, please. I’m learning (trying) to just sit and listen to what you might have to say to me for the day. I’m learning to turn the focus back onto you instead of me. Easier said than done, but it is my desire. I want to die to myself, and live for you, even if I don’t act like I want that most of the time. Again, I’m working on that. I’m also working on being more thankful. I don’t tell you nearly enough how thankful I am for your love and for the blessings that you have poured into my life. I have so many things to be thankful for- my family, my friends, free education, a bed to sleep in at night, a dorm room all to myself, etc. I could name things that I am blessed with for hours, but I won’t put you through that. I know that you already know, because the only reason I have them is because of you.

God, I love the fact that many of my blessings have names. You have blessed me unconditionally with the love of my Compassion children. So I want to take the time to thank you for each and every one of those beautiful children who have come into my life. What a privilege it is for me to have them in my life. 

Thank you for Rodrigo, and the way that He has encouraged me to stay close to you. You use him to show me the wonders of sponsoring a child. 

Thank you for Babita, my best friend. Her love is so beautiful and unconditional- a little glimpse of what yours is like.

Thank you for Rosa. It is amazing to me how you brought us together. We are so alike yet so different. Thank you for blessing our relationship, and letting me meet her.

Thank you for Winner. She has lost so much in her young life, yet she chooses to give what she has- her love- away to someone as unworthy as me. 

Thank you for Hillary, and the way that he makes me laugh. I don’t know why you put him in my life, but thank you for that. 

Thank you for Giberline. She opened my heart to Haiti just like you wanted her to. She has had a part in who I am today.

Thank you for Alexandra, and the way that she has given me a heart for a part of Ecuador that I have never visited. I feel like I have known her my entire life.

Thank you for Omelisa, and the things she has taught me. She has taught me to give even if I get nothing in return. It is not about me. 

Thank you for Kevin and his entire family. It was a blessing for me to hug them and share your love with them if only for a minute. 

Thank you for Cecilia, and for letting her choose me. Me, of all the people she could have chosen. I have never felt such love as when she jumped into my arms. 

Thank you for Lucela and her sassy smile. Thank you that I got to see her smile in person, that I got to hug her and hold her. I will never forget those moments. 

Thank you for Niurka. That beautiful girl has a place in my heart already, and I barely know her. It is all because of you.

Thank you for Yulissa, and the way that you have weaved our stories together. I never will tell the story of my life again without Yulissa being in it.

Just listing the names of my sponsored children and the way you have blessed me because of them sends chills down my spine and brings tears to my eyes. Then there are Mariela, Olibris, Carolay, Gil Jr, Neha, Asha, Carolyne, Sargo, and Babu. Lord, how can I thank you for giving me this opportunity to make an impact in your kingdom. You don’t need my help, but you let me help you anyway. And I love you for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you for using me just as I am. Thank you for continuing to change me into the woman that you want me to be, even when I don’t listen. Even when my heart isn’t in it. But you love me anyway, and I, I love you.

Love Always, Hilary

Sunday, September 9, 2012

10,000 Reasons for My Heart to Sing

We sang the song "10,000 Reasons" by Matt Redman today at church and it got me thinking of all the reasons I have to thank God everyday. But somehow I tend to spend more of my days complaining than being grateful. 10,000 reasons is a great song, and if you haven't heard you've got to! Click here to listen to it. I have so many things to be thankful for today and every day, and here are just a few....

I have had the most amazing last 3 years!!!